Indexed on: 05 Apr '13Published on: 05 Apr '13Published in: Hepatology
On-treatment levels of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) may predict response to peginterferon (PEG-IFN) therapy in chronic hepatitis B (CHB), but previously proposed prediction rules have shown limited external validity. We analyzed 803 HBeAg-positive patients treated with PEG-IFN in three global studies with available HBsAg measurements. A stopping-rule based on absence of a decline from baseline was compared to a prediction-rule that uses HBsAg levels of <1,500 IU/mL and >20,000 IU/mL to identify patients with high and low probabilities of response. Patients with an HBsAg level <1,500 IU/mL at week 12 achieved response (HBeAg loss with HBV DNA <2,000 IU/mL at 6 months posttreatment) in 45%. At week 12, patients without a decline in HBsAg achieved a response in 14%, compared to only 6% of patients with HBsAg >20,000 IU/mL, but performance varied across HBV genotype. In patients treated with PEG-IFN monotherapy (n = 465), response rates were low in patients with genotypes A or D if there was no decline of HBsAg by week 12 (negative predictive value [NPV]: 97%-100%), and in patients with genotypes B or C if HBsAg at week 12 was >20,000 IU/mL (NPV: 92%-98%). At week 24, nearly all patients with HBsAg >20,000 IU/mL failed to achieve a response, irrespective of HBV genotype (NPV for response and HBsAg loss 99% and 100%).HBsAg is a strong predictor of response to PEG-IFN in HBeAg-positive CHB. HBV genotype-specific stopping-rules may be considered at week 12, but treatment discontinuation is indicated in all patients with HBsAg >20,000 IU/mL at week 24, irrespective of HBV genotype.